The technological progress which humanity has made in the past 100 years is nothing short of absolutely astounding, and the more our technology advances, the more we begin to realize the seemingly limitless potential of human innovation. The application of modern technology is also seemingly limitless, as we create and develop artificial systems capable of everything from simple functions like flipping a light switch to infinitely complex functions like landing a spacecraft on a comet hurtling through space. As we learn and progress, our machines learn and progress as well, and humanity currently finds itself in a position in which machine learning grows and advances at an exponential rate.
The application of this machine learning is simultaneously exciting and alarming, as we create a future in which artificial systems and intelligences are both our greatest tools and our greatest reminders of our limited abilities and potentials. At the rate at which machines learn and artificial intelligences advance, human intelligence and innovation will be obsolete within a hundred years. This idea is both fascinating and frightening, and it is reflected through a number of the texts and themes we have covered in our course in addition to countless texts which we have not. Personally, this topic concerns me, as it should concern all of humanity, as it presents a scenario in which our own creations render us obsolete, a topic we have been concerned with since our earliest days (Prometheus). Professionally, the limitless applications of technology are an invaluable resource which can be used to better inform and educate the youth of the world at an unprecedented rate.
“Stone Lives” examines both the good and bad aspects of the progression of technology and artificial intelligence. On the one hand, advanced technology allows the disabled and disenfranchised an opportunity to artificially gap their misgivings and shortcomings, creating a society in which we all have the capability to improve ourselves, our standing in society, and our quality of life. On the other hand, “Stone Lives” acknowledges the serious concerns of humanity dehumanizing itself and creating a new sort of artificial existence. This idea is covered in a number of other texts and stories, and the results are often not as pleasant as they are in “Stone Lives”, which itself is not all that pleasant. Ridley Scott’s criminally underappreciated film Prometheus, and its sequel Alien: Covenant reflects the original myth of Prometheus but instead paints humanity as the creator and artificial intelligence as the creation which comes to realize that the powers with which its creator has imbued it give it the capacity to render its creator obsolete.